School Shootings Have Become the New Norm… Do We Fear For the Next?

Grady Falk, staff writer and photographer

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Whether you are aware of it or not, mass shootings impact each and everyone of us. October 24, 2014 is a date that will leave a never ending affect on most of us forever. That’s the date in which Marysville Pilchuck High School had their shooting that claimed the lives of five students. Almost no one would’ve expected that this would happen. Not this close to home.

Over the last few years however, school shootings and mass shootings have become the new norm here in the United States. It’s sad and disappointing to have to admit that but unfortunately it’s the truth. If one were to happen today, no one would really be surprised  to see it on the news. It’s a tough task to handle in terms of how to prevent one from happening and how to stop one if it were to occur.

There are a lot of different viewpoints and it all boils down to politics. It’s sad to see that because whenever one occurs all the news outlets cover is the political side of things and never really how the kids feel, how it impacts them, and if they even feel safe to go back to their lives before the incident. The US just becomes more and more divided in a time in which we need to unite more than ever to end the violence.

Arlington High School has taken some steps in the right direction for preventing one by adding the fence outside the D-Wing and the buzzer at the front door. We even have a police officer that remains on campus during school hours. Where are they though? They don’t stay in front of the school or even in the commons, the most busy place in the entire school.

According to Jayce Torres, (12), the school isn’t doing enough. “They added the buzzer to prevent anyone from getting in, yet all you have to say is ‘I’m dropping something off’ or ‘I’m just getting to school’ and they open the door right up”. For Griffin Gardoski (12), it’s not that the school district doesn’t do enough to prevent one, he’s more concerned about how to stop it when one occurs with it taking the police 5-10 minutes to arrive on scene. For him the issue is that “none of the teachers here at AHS can carry a firearm which makes us vulnerable and defenseless if someone walked in armed.”

However, Gardoski (12), doesn’t think that a shooting will occur here at Arlington. “We have a good environment with good people. If one were to occur it would have to be from an outside source.” Gardoski’s view is unlike a lot of the students here at AHS.

For Torres (12), the fear of a shooting happening here at the school has began to affect him academically. He admits that he doesn’t pay attention enough because I’m constantly keeping my eyes on my peers and my surroundings. When people make sudden, aggressive, movements, I get super uncomfortable because I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.” That’s the impact that the fear of a shooting happening here leaves on him.

When it was time for the students at MPHS to return to school, a lot of them couldn’t go. “My boys were pretty good academically so that wasn’t the big challenge. The real challenge was lunch. The cafeteria was closed and so none of the students had a place they could flock to. There was no sense of belonging.” “We had friends that were in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting that were sitting at the next table over who had to do some serious and extensive counseling before they could return to classes.”

The one thing that really was able to get things going again and to try and finish the school year strong was the staff and  the community. “The Seattle Seahawks came in and spent a day with the kids and the Seattle Sounders invited the soccer team to a visit and a game.” The teachers did a good job of getting back to work and getting the students to work as well.

Without the community there to back up the students and to make them feel like they could go back to their everyday life things definitely wouldn’t have gone nearly as well as they did. To rally behind their community that was grieving and still trying to make sense of everything that had happened is something that people everywhere should be doing more of in times of need like this.

English teacher and cheer coach here at AHS, Brooke Adcock, had step sons who attended Marysville Pilchuck at the time of the shooting. From first hand experience she could see how it impacts the kids. “They would get nightmares on a regular basis and their sense of safety the moment they went back to school was shattered.” She admits that going back to their everyday life was a very long and difficult process.

On the day of the shooting rather than going home and putting on the news for any updates on what had happened, they chose to go out to lunch. During this long process “we would talk about all of the emotions and thoughts that were going through their minds rather than just trying to avoid the topic and hiding from the fact that it happened,” said Adcock. “We learned to be more appreciative of each other and of the time that we have left after that”.

Academics our the main priority at this point in our lives. How can students go on to be successful, in not only school, but all aspects of life, in a scenario like this? The answer is without acknowledging the incident, trying to push forward and move on, and rallying behind your community, you can’t. Preventing and stopping a school shooting should be the number one priority for our district.

We as students get preached to about how academics should be our priority day in and day out but for some students at this day in age that just can’t happen. Until the school has done a well enough job with insuring students safety and protection, there will be hundreds who struggle with paying attention in class and getting their work done.

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